In 2015, Viva Records asked FlipMusic Productions to pitch a song for its talent Sarah Geronimo’s album, The Great Unknown. Viva needed one last song to complete the track list.
To make the pitch, FlipMusic put together the production team of Nica del Rosario (songwriter), Emman Sambayan (songwriter, producer), and Bojam de Belen (music and production). It took del Rosario around three hours to finish writing a song about a new romance that may or may not likely flourish. The result is the ear worm and now viral dance craze “Tala.”
This story and more will be revealed in the ABS-CBN documentary Tala Nation, this week’s feature in the docu series, #NoFilter, hosted by reporter Jeff Canoy. Mining interviews from Del Rosario, Geronimo and everyone who had a hand in making the song a sensation—albeit belatedly, the docu attempts to trace how a song became a viral hit, a nationwide dance challenge performed by everyone from your neighbor to big basketball stars, and a tool to bring people together.
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When FlipMusic was hired by Viva Records for “Tala,” they were told to take inspiration from the music of Up Dharma Down or Coldplay.
Del Rosario, who has previously written a song for the Popstar (“Minamahal”, 2014), sat down in the recording studio and, with a very tight deadline in her head, decided to stick to her “go-to imageries”: anything related to the night, the planet, the stars, outer space, the solar system.
“Tala,” she tells Canoy, is about two people who are “feeling something” for each other, and they are willing to find out what the uncertain future holds. She explains further: “[Part of the song is saying] if this is how far I can go [in the relationship], okey lang, I won't regret what happened. ’Yong metaphor na aabutin natin ang mga tala is just [saying], ‘We can be great together, I think. Kasi I feel something that's real.’”
The first version of “Tala” was a slow, soul/ballad. FlipMusic was asked to do other versions of the song, because Geronimo and her team wanted it to be more “danceable.”
Del Rosario recalls, “Nakita ko si Sarah no’ng recording na, ’tapos ’yon, kinuwento niya nga sakin na parang gusto niya parang maging dance craze ’to. Gagawan daw nila ng choreography.” The song went through several revisions before it was recorded.
Geronimo—who co-produced the album with Civ Fontanilla, artist and repertoire (A and R) manager and record producer for Viva Records—also contributed to the lyrics of the song. For instance, the documentary reveals, she changed the word “tatalikuran” to “
“Tala” was released in 2016, topping several music charts in the Philippines.
Georcelle Dapat-Sy, the founder of G-Force, choreographed the dance moves for the music video. In 2018, G-Force member Gelai Aguzar, created a different choreography for the dance break portion of Geronimo’s concert.
Shortly after, members of the LGBTQIA+ started filming themselves doing the “Tala” dance moves. Bench Hipolito, a performer at the O Bar in Pasig City and a Sarah Geronimo impersonator, usually danced to “Tala” during her sets. Hipolito became a viral sensation herself.
More recently, in November 2019, Geronimo was caught on camera performing the dance moves of her hit song during the after-party of The Voice Kids grand finals episode.
Today, the music video for the song has been viewed more times than when it was first released in 2016. It has also brought Geronimo back to influential recording star status. And the lady and her team have the music- and dance-loving Filipino fans to thank.
“We can always release a song or even a dance track or love song pero with ‘Tala’s’ case, talagang yung tao yung nagpalaki,” Fontanilla told Canoy.
Watch the full Tala Nation documentary of #NoFilter this Wednesday, January 29, after Bandila on ABS-CBN.